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Lawco Lake gets facelift

The county's own lake community is about to get a makeover.

Lawco Lake off State Route 522 was not meeting dam requirements, but soon it will be.

Members of the lake community, known as the Lawrence County Fish and Game Protection Association, were informed by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources that the lake needed a new dam to meet current standards.

Charlie Baker, president of the board of directors at Lawco Lake, said the spillway was in "disrepair," meaning "it was not holding water the way it needed to."

"Regulations are more stringent than when it was put there in 1932," he said.

Beyond state requirements, the dam did not look up to par either.

"The spillway was deteriorated tremendously and the valve to lower the lake was rusted and couldn't be used and the dam itself was really overgrown with vegetation so it'll be much better," said Don Edwards, who has had a cabin at the lake since 1955.

After five years of meetings and debates, the community members agreed with Edwards and decided to take out a loan to cover the $400,000 project.

"This hasn't been a smooth ride," Baker said. "We had a lot of resistance from members at first, people who wanted to fight the state about it, but now we're glad it was passed in March."

The residents and property owners of Lawco Lake are responsible for paying off the loan, he said, which should be paid off by 2014.

Fields Excavating in Ironton is doing the work, which began last week with a clearing of the area. Now they are expanding the earthed dam before starting on the spillway.

"In the next two or three weeks we will begin to pour the concrete," Baker said.

He said the project has been moving along nicely, but everything depends on the weather.

"It'll be finished by October, no later, but it depends on the weather," Baker said. "Because of the nice weather, we're moving quickly."

As far as using the lake, nothing has changed.

People can still swim and fish, Baker said. He said the lake will only be drained four feet.

"It's a project for the future of the lake and to maintain it," Baker said.

Lawco Lake is a private lakeside community formed in 1924 and incorporated in 1932. Currently, more than 30 families live in the community and more than 80 cabins stand on the land in Wayne National Forest.

The lake was started, and still is used, as a fishing and gaming recreation area.